Interaction of Mast Cells with Cationic Histamine Releasers

  • R. D. Higginbotham
Part of the Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie / Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 18 / 1)


Mast cells are characteristic elements of the connective tissues and appear to serve as cellular sites for storage and release of both heparin and histamine in the tissues. These cells respond to various kinds of injurious stimuli by shedding their histamine- and heparin-containing granules into the ground substance where their biologically-active substances may influence subsequent tissue responses. A great deal of interest has been focussed on the possibility that these cells may play an important role in the development of allergic and other types of inflammatory lesions of the connective tissues. An important aspect of research in this area has been concerned with the release of histamine from mast cells in response to administration of histamine releaser drugs (Riley, 1959). It is of interest that amongst the various speculations on the mechanisms involved in histamine release is the suggestion that this cellular response to cationic histamine releasers may be effected through an ion exchange mechanism in the mast cell granules in which histamine is competitively displaced by the releaser agent and heparin serves as the cation exchanger (Green, 1962; Küttner, 1961). The following discussion will be concerned with the role of heparin in the interaction of mast cells and histamine releaser drugs and, for the sake of brevity, will not attempt to consider the importance of histamine in this reaction.


Mast Cell Toluidine Blue Ground Substance Challenge Dose Mast Cell Granule 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1966

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  • R. D. Higginbotham

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